As new research reveals that 73% of small business owners agree that online/IT skills are essential for their business to thrive, a new free hub to boost their online skills and drive their businesses forward has been launched today by Make It Click, a charitable skills initiative.
A poll of over 500 UK small businesses and sole traders by Make It Click, which is being delivered by social change charity Good Things Foundation, found almost half (47%) have suffered a significant loss of earnings as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. To help keep their businesses competitive, 66% of business owners agree they will need to continually update their online/IT skills, yet almost a third (32%) say they would not know where to go to get them.
The new Make It Click small business hub, which is supported by the Federation of Small Businesses, offers small businesses an easy and convenient way to boost their online and IT skills. It includes a wealth of free online learning resources to help business owners and their employees increase their digital know-how and confidence. Skills range from beginner courses on word processing to social media marketing and online accounting, which were the top skills small business owners said would help to boost their business during the pandemic.
Helen Milner OBE, chief executive of Good Things Foundation said: “This a challenging time for people who run small businesses, as they cope with the huge impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and juggle so much at work and at home whilst keeping afloat and helping the nation’s recovery. We know that digital skills deliver growth and jobs, and for many small businesses a lack of digital skills is holding them back. Our new resources are vital to help small businesses recover and build skills and resilience, and our small business hub offers free support to improve digital skills and help small businesses achieve their goals. I hope our new hub can help small businesses feel more confident about their future.”
Digital skills are more important than ever and provide a lifeline for businesses as they adapt to a ‘new normal’. The new resources are backed by the Government, forming part of The Skills Toolkit published by Government and key industry partners.
Small Business Minister Paul Scully said: “I have been so impressed by how small business owners across the country have risen to the challenges posed by coronavirus, adapting the way they do things in really tough circumstances.
“The Make It Click initiative, which is part of the government’s Skills Toolkit, will help ensure businesses and their employees have the digital skills they need to rebuild and grow as we enter the next phase of our recovery from the pandemic.”
Mike Cherry OBE, National Chairman of Federation of Small Businesses said: “Delivering support to help small businesses increase their digital skills is crucial. The pandemic is making this even more of a priority; FSB research found that in early lockdown, around 40 per cent of small businesses adopted or increased their use of digital technologies.
“Alongside supporting this new skills hub, we are asking Government to widen the definition of ‘R&D’ and introduce digital vouchers for small businesses to make it easier for them to adopt digital technologies. Many small firms already rely on Google and the UK’s growing tech sector, and now want to find new ways to boost small businesses’ digital growth. I’m pleased to see this happening through this new Google-funded Make It Click initiative.”
Mike Adams OBE, CEO of Purple, a small business changing the disability conversation with businesses and disabled people said: “As a result of COVID-19 we had to change overnight from being office-based and customer-facing, to working remotely and connecting with our customers virtually. This has been an almighty challenge in terms of IT resilience, skilling up staff and helping our customers, many of whom are digital novices, navigate the virtual world.
Since the pandemic, digital skills have gone from being ‘nice to have’ to essential and we wouldn’t have survived if we hadn’t quickly adapted. Over the next 12 months our focus is to develop a digital skills training programme to ensure each of our employees deepens their IT knowledge. Make It Click will form an essential component of this as its resources are extensive and its flexible learning approach makes it easy to implement.”
Small businesses can access Make It Click’s free skills hub for small businesses by visiting www.makeitclick.com/business via a smartphone, tablet or computer. Online support is available through a network of more than 160 centres across the UK. Support in person will be available once lockdown measures ease and enable centres to open.